When was the last time you met a truly inspiring person? Today, you get to meet two. The first is Stefan Sagmeister, a New York based designer. What inspires me about Stefan is not just his excellent work, but the source of where that work comes from. Every seven years, Stefan shuts his company down for an entire year and gets outta town. He takes a year-long sabbatical, sends his staff all over the globe and gathers enough new ideas and energy in that one year to fuel the next six years to follow. Check out his fascinating TED Talk of how he does it here:
“…right now we spend about in the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there is another 40 years that’s really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years.
That’s clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.” –Stefan Sagmeister
Companies that practice sabbatical benefit from the retention and increased contribution of their employees.
Historically offered to pastors and professors, sabbatical is gaining more ground in corporate and small business settings. And the reason? Because people are declaring it possible, and then executing a plan to create it. It may be paid or unpaid, three months to one year in length and generally taken after 6 to 7 years of service. Companies that practice sabbatical benefit from the retention and increased contribution of their employees; they make more
money than what the year off costs
them. There are many ways sabbatical is being practiced. For some great ideas on how you can create a sabbatical for yourself, look at:
- Business Excellence: “It’s good for employees, for the company, and for customers.”
- Harvard Business Review: “I can safely say this has been my greatest year of growth.”
- Forbes: “Taking a sabbatical doesn’t have to mean depleting your life savings or derailing your career.”
Meet my friend, Nathan Howard. He spent 2014 on sabbatical, pursuing dreams that his regular career doesn’t allow for. He told me, “I was able to read and write more in a year than I had in the previous 8 years combined and to complete the first draft of my book manuscript. And I was able to take a trip I had dreamed of since grad school, going to [Turkey]. It was an adventure I will never forget. The break from the regular year also enabled me to re-evaluate a lot of things about my life. I was blessed to renew some relationships and to create new ones.
“Slowing down gave me perspective, clarity, and a renewed sense of purpose.” Nathan Howard
I can say that for me, slowing down gave me perspective, clarity, and a renewed sense of purpose. And without the living fast that I experience regularly in the normal year, I found myself taking a lot more joy in simple pleasures.” Priceless.
Taking that much time off may seem impossible for you right now. At best it may seem like something for other people. But what if sabbatical is a possibility for you, too? If it were possible for you, would you be interested? It starts with shifting your focus from “It can’t be done!” to “How CAN it be done?” Next, asking “Who do I need to be to create that?” Understanding that work expands for the time allotted for it, start asking yourself, “How would I need to be in work and organization for the next 6 years to then take 1 full year off?”
There is an interesting command in the Old Testament about leaving the land to rest every 7th
year. And God, knowing mankind’s anxious heart, anticipates the worry about provision during that year off. Read the words of Leviticus 25:20-22: “But you might ask, “If we don’t plant seeds or gather crops, what will we eat the seventh year?” I will send you such a great blessing during the sixth year that the land will produce enough crops for three years. When you plant in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the old crop; you will eat the old crop until the harvest of the ninth year.”
Consider what a year away from business as usual–plus the faith that God’s got your back in it–would mean for your life. What dreams would you pursue? Where would you go? Who would you spend time with? What if you did that every 7 years from here on out? And how would a commitment to that life alter how you are living today? Imagine the impact those 5 years of creativity could have not only for your self but the world.
To Your Great Life!